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					Manufacturing Careers                                                         Computer Software
                                                                     Engineers, Systems Software

                        Table of Contents (scroll or use links below to navigate document)

                                What They Do                                           Trends
                                Tasks                                                  Training
                                Skills, Knowledge, and Abilities                       Where Do I Find the Job?
                                Work Environment                                       Where Can the Job Lead?
                                California’s Job Outlook and Wages                     Other Sources

                        What They Do
                         Computer Software Engineers, Systems apply the principles and techniques of computer science,
                         engineering, and mathematical analysis to the design, development, testing, and evaluation of
                         the software and systems that enable computers to perform their many applications.

                         Systems Software Engineers working in applications or systems development analyze users’ needs
                         and design, create, and modify general computer systems. Engineers can be involved in the design
                         and development of many types of software including software for operating systems, network
                         distribution, and compilers, which convert programs for faster processing. In programming, or
                         coding, Systems Software Engineers instruct a computer, line by line, how to perform a function.
                         Engineers must possess strong programming skills, but are more concerned with developing
                         algorithms and analyzing and solving programming problems than with actually writing code.

                         Systems Software Engineers coordinate the construction and maintenance of a company’s computer
                         systems, and plan their future growth. They coordinate each department’s computer needs within a
                         company and make recommendations on technical matters. They also might set up the company’s
                         intranets, networks that link computers within the organization and ease communication. Many
                         engineers work for companies that configure, implement, and install complete computer systems. In
                         addition, they often work as part of a team that designs new hardware, software, and systems.

                                Analyze information to determine, recommend and plan installation of a new system or
                                modification of an existing system.
                                Confer with data processing and project managers to obtain information on limitations and
                                capabilities for data processing projects.
                                Consult with engineering staff to evaluate interface between hardware and software, develop
                                specifications and performance requirements and resolve customer problems.
                                Modify existing software to correct errors, to adapt it to new hardware or to upgrade
                                interfaces and improve performance.
                                Design and develop software systems, using scientific analysis and mathematical models to
                                predict and measure outcome and consequences of design.
                                Develop and direct software system testing and validation procedures.
                                Direct software programming and development of documentation.
                                Evaluate factors such as reporting formats required, cost constraints, and need for security
                                restrictions to determine hardware configuration.
                                                                                Computer Software Engineers, Systems Software 37
                                                                                                                                  Manufacturing Careers
Computer Software
Engineers, Systems Software

         Consult with customers and/or other departments on project status, proposals and technical
         issues such as software system design and maintenance.
         Advise customer about, or perform, maintenance of software system.
         Coordinate installation of software system.
Detailed descriptions of this occupation may be found in the Occupational Information Network (O*NET) at

Important Skills, Knowledge, and Abilities
         Complex Problem Solving — Identifying complex problems and reviewing related
         information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
         Technology Design — Generating or adapting equipment and technology to serve user needs.
         Troubleshooting — Determining causes of operating errors and deciding what to do about it.
         Critical Thinking — Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of
         alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
         Active Learning — Understanding the implications of new information for both current and
         future problem-solving and decision-making.
         Programming — Writing computer programs for various purposes.
         Reading Comprehension — Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related
         Computers and Electronics — Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic
         equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
         Engineering and Technology — Knowledge of the practical application of engineering
         science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and
         equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.
         Mathematics — Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their
         English Language — Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language
         including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
         Customer and Personal Service — Knowledge of principles and processes for providing
         customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality
         standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
         Design — Knowledge of design techniques, tools, and principles involved in production of
         precision technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models.
         Information Ordering — The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern
         according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures,
         mathematical operations).
         Oral Comprehension — The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas
         presented through spoken words and sentences.

Work Environment
  Systems Software Engineers normally work in well-lighted and comfortable offices or computer
  laboratories in which computer equipment is located. Most engineers work a minimum 40 hours a
  week, but due to the project-oriented nature of the work, they often work evenings or weekends

38 Computer Software Engineers, Systems Software
Manufacturing Careers                                                                                                            Computer Software
                                                                                                                        Engineers, Systems Software

                         to meet deadlines or solve unexpected technical problems. Due to the nature of the work,
                         Systems Software Engineers are susceptible to eyestrain, back discomfort, and hand and wrist
                         problems such as carpal tunnel syndrome.

                         As networks expand, Systems Software Engineers may be able to use modems, laptops, e-mails,
                         and the Internet to provide more technical support and other services from their main office,
                         connecting to a customer’s computer remotely to identify and correct developing problems.

                        California’s Job Outlook and Wages
                         The California Outlook and Wage chart below represents the occupation across all industries.

                                         Standard                              Estimated Number                         Estimated Number                                      Average                                      2006
                                       Occupational                                of Workers                               of Workers                                         Annual                                  Wage Range
                                       Classification                                 2004                                     2014                                           Openings                                  (per hour)

                                  Computer Software Engineers, Systems Software
                          ○   ○    ○
                                       ○   ○   ○   ○   ○   ○
                                                               ○   ○   ○   ○    ○   ○   ○   ○   ○   ○   ○   ○   ○   ○   ○   ○   ○
                                                                                                                                     ○   ○   ○    ○   ○   ○   ○   ○   ○   ○
                                                                                                                                                                               ○   ○   ○   ○   ○   ○   ○   ○   ○
                                                                                                                                                                                                                   $35.85 to $54.86
                                                                                                                                                                                                                   ○   ○   ○   ○   ○   ○   ○   ○   ○   ○

                                  Wages do not reflect self-employment.
                                  Average annual openings include new jobs plus net replacements.
                                  Source:, Employment Projections by Occupation and OES Employment & Wages by Occupation,
                                  Labor Market Information Division, Employment Development Department.

                         The number of Systems Software Engineers is projected to grow much faster than average,
                         particularly in the computer systems design industry, which alone expects 8,200 new Engineers
                         between 2004 and 2014. In fact, new job opportunities for this job are expected in all industries,
                         as businesses and other organizations continue to adopt and integrate new technologies and seek
                         to maximize the efficiency of their computer system. Employers continue to seek computer
                         professionals with strong programming, systems analysis, interpersonal, and business skills.
                         Competition among businesses will continue to create an incentive for increasingly sophisticated
                         technological innovations, and organizations will need more Systems Software Engineers to
                         implement these new technological changes.

                         Most employers prefer to hire persons who have at least a bachelor’s degree and broad knowledge
                         and experience with computer systems and technologies. System Software Engineers usually focus
                         their studies on computer science or computer information systems. Jobs that are more complex and
                         require a high degree of technical knowledge often require candidates with a master’s degree.

                         Many students seeking software engineering jobs enhance their employment opportunities by
                         participating in internships offered through their schools. These experiences provide students with
                         broad knowledge and valuable hands-on experience, making them attractive candidates to
                         employers. In many firms, mentoring has become part of the evaluation process for new hires.

                         Systems Software Engineers should be knowledgeable about the different operating systems used
                         by the industry. They must have the ability to problem-solve and configure operating systems to
                         work with all kinds of hardware and adapt the systems to meet the needs of the organization.

                                                                                                                                                 Computer Software Engineers, Systems Software 39
                                                                                                            Manufacturing Careers
Computer Software
Engineers, Systems Software

  Employers demand new skills as technology continually evolves and advances in the computer
  field. Systems Software Engineers must acquire these new skills if they wish to remain in this
  extremely competitive dynamic field. To help keep up with the changing technology, continuing
  education and professional development seminars are offered by employers and software vendors,
  colleges and universities, and private training institutions.

  Recommended High School Course Work
  High school students interested in this kind of work should take computer science and information
  technology courses, as well as math, sciences, and language arts, in order to develop the skills
  requirements such as problem solving, reading comprehension, and critical thinking.

Where Do I Find the Job?
  Direct application to employers remains one of the most effective job search methods. Use the
  Search for Employers by Industry feature on the Career Center page at to locate employers in your area. Search using keywords from
  the following manufacturing industry names to get a list of private firms and their addresses:

       Computer Storage Device                             Other Computer Peripheral Equipment
       Computer Systems Design Services                    Other Computer Related Services
       Custom Computer Programming Services                Physical/Engineering/Biological Research
       Electricity & Signal Testing Instruments            Search, Detection & Navigation Instruments
       Electronic Computer                                 Social Science/Humanities Research
       Industrial Process Variable Instruments             Software Publishers

  Search these yellow page headings for listings of private firms:
       Computer Manufacturers                              Engineers-Consulting
       Computer Networks                                   Engineers-Industrial
       Computer Software Developers                        Engineers-Manufacturing
       Computer System Designers

Where Can the Job Lead?
  A career path for Systems Software Engineers might lead to supervisory or managerial positions
  within a firm, particularly those who have high levels of communication and project management
  skills. Engineers with degrees in specialties such as electronics, aerospace, or industrial engineering
  will have many opportunities to make lateral moves into other departments and positions. Those
  with persuasive and people skills sometimes move into sales positions, which can be lucrative.

Other Sources of Information
   Institute for the Certification of Computing Professionals

   National Workforce Center for Emerging Technologies

   Association for Computing Machinery

40 Computer Software Engineers, Systems Software

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